Home > My Research > Eastern Philosophy & New Age > Conversations With God > Book 1, Chapter 3
I nicknamed this chapter The Book of Life, because life is the central theme. And anyone who has read Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four will appreciate how cheeky I’m being.
Walsch has a lot of questions for his God. The chapter begins with a litany of them. At the top, the first question deals with success, “When will my life finally take off?” (p. 71) Since the remainder of the chapter deals with this question, and other chapters undoubtedly deal with some of the others, the list won’t be enumerated here. The short answer is that since we (supposedly) create our own realities, the only thing coming between us and success is ourselves.
Targeting Christianity. There is a significant amount of word play in the chapter used to appeal to Christians. First, he states that God’s Laws of the universe cannot be violated or ignored, that the laws are simply “the way things work” and “you cannot operate outside of [them].” (p.73) In this sense, God’s laws are like the laws of physics. So, by the simple act of existing, we are partners with God, which he refers to as the eternal covenant, to borrow from the words of Jesus at the Last Supper (Mk 14:24) and of the Epistle to the Hebrews (13:20). He states, “My promise to you is to always give you what you ask. Your promise is to ask; to understand the process of the asking and the answering.” (p. 73) He later calls this partnership “a holy communion”. (p. 75) “The promise of God is that you are His son. Her offspring. Its likeness. His equal.” (p. 75)
Walsch’s God then redefines the Trinity. This is a mystery of the Christian faith, that the One God exists in Three Persons. Walsch uses several groupings of words, three words in each group, to convince the reader that he is like God…that he is God. Consider the following: body/mind/spirit; physical/nonphysical/metaphysical; conscious/subconscious/superconconscious; id/ego/superego; energy/matter/antimatter; mind/heart/soul; etc. (p.73) One word in each of these groups represents the soul or spirit, and the soul is the aggregation of all feelings one has experienced. In other words, the soul creates itself by having experiences. Creation takes three steps: thought (an idea), word (expression of an idea), and action (energy released). (p. 74)
Mind Over Matter. Returning to the topic of success, all a man must do to change his circumstances is to think differently, change the idea from what it is to the grandest vision, and thoughts, words, and actions will follow to create a new reality. “Think, speak, and act as the God You Are.” (p. 76) This is a cyclic method: new thoughts, better words and better actions are always necessary to maintain alignment with the vision. (p. 78) God warns that doing so is to risk being called crazy and charged with blasphemy, even crucified (implying that this happened to Jesus because he was a master of New Age thought). (p. 76) He emphasizes that all conditions are temporary, and thus, there is no use in making value judgments about them. (p.79)
Life & Death. But this chapter is not really about success. In a way, Walsch is correct: success is what you define it to be and one can choose to be happy in current conditions, but the discussion changes topic when Walsch challenges his God on how one cannot simply will oneself to overcome a terminal disease. The dialogue pivots on the notion that one’s faith can move mountains (Mt 17:20; Mt 21:21-22; 1 Cor 13:2). God tells Walsch:
“The person who has the ‘faith to move mountains,’ and dies six weeks later, has moved mountains for six weeks. That may have been enough for him. He may have decided, on the last hour of the last day, ‘Okay, I’ve had enough. I’m ready to go on now to another adventure.’ You may not have known of that decision, because he may not have told you…he may have made [it] quite a bit earlier…and not have told you [or] anyone.” (p. 80)
One might also draw a correlation between this excerpt and the words of St. Paul in his epistle to the Philippians:
20 For I fully expect and hope that I will never be ashamed, but that I will continue to be bold for Christ, as I have been in the past. And I trust that my life will bring honor to Christ, whether I live or die. 21 For to me, living means living for Christ, and dying is even better. 22 But if I live, I can do more fruitful work for Christ. So I really don’t know which is better. 23 I’m torn between two desires: I long to go and be with Christ, which would be far better for me. 24 But for your sakes, it is better that I continue to live. (Phil 1:20-24 NIV)
To put it plainly, Paul believes that martyrdom would be of personal benefit because he would then be with Christ in Heaven, but out of charity for others, he notes that dying would prevent him from working directly toward the conversion and betterment of souls. I have actually heard people use this passage to defend a claim that Paul was in a state of despair, even suicidal, during his imprisonment. Walsch continues:
“You have created a society in which it is very not okay to want to die…but there are many situations in which death is preferable to life[.] […] The entire medical profession is trained to keep people alive, rather than keeping people comfortable so that they can die with dignity. […] The greatest gift you can give the dying is to let them die in peace[.] ” (pp. 80-81)
According to Walsch’s God, the soul decides when to die. Motivated by their own interests, both the mind and the body selfishly resist. The soul will prevail, because its purpose (yes, here’s the sole purpose/soul purpose pun) is to evolve and it does not care about the furtherance of the mind and body. He goes on:
“The soul is clear that there is no great tragedy involved in leaving the body. In many ways, the tragedy is being in the body.” (p. 82)
Again, one might turn to Paul in another letter:
6 Therefore we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord. 7 For we live by faith, not by sight. 8 We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord. 9 So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it. (2 Cor 5:6-9 NIV)
This certainly sounds like Paul is of like mind, that death can better than life; however, the line that follows makes clear that Christian theology is not relativistic and that there is not another ‘adventure’, but judgment:
10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad. (2 Cor 5:10 NIV)
Where does this ultimately lead? In a word, suicide. Walsch’s message in this chapter is the same as that found in A Course in Miracles, the text that led former New Age teacher Sharon Lee Giganti to advise a depressed young friend that suicide is not wrong, that her family would not be devastated so long as she projected positive thoughts. The friend took that advice. “Every death is a suicide” is a common phrase found in ACIM and related rhetoric, rooted in the belief that the soul decides when to move on to a new reality. And we’re not just talking about the old-fashioned kind of suicide here. This line of thought directly supports so-called “end of life” rights, that is to say assisted suicide.
Suicide is very romantic, don’t you think? Perhaps noble, honorable? Shakespeare would agree. Consider Romeo and Juliet, Lady Macbeth, Antony and Cleopatra, and Othello. Indeed, suicide is all-too-often glorified in fiction, and sometimes even in real life. The suicide of singer Kurt Cobain in 1994 caused a widespread scare that many copycat suicides would follow. Of course, suicide is a whole lot easier to swallow (sometimes literally) if there is no fear of the consequences…or a denial that there will be any real consequences at all. It is the ultimate pride. It is saying, “Not thy will, Lord, but mine.” And if holding the belief that one’s own self is God, then how can any path be wrong.
Against Church Teaching. Toward the end of the chapter, Walsch’s God takes a swing at several teachings of the Catholic Church in particular. The first is self-denial. “Somewhere you’ve come across the idea that to deny yourself joy is Godly — that not to celebrate life is heavenly.” (p. 82) He aims to make anyone who faithfully celebrates the season of Lent feel like a fool. But self-denial is more than just an expression of sorrow for one’s own sins (superficial or not). Practicing self-denial on a regular basis trains the soul for sacrifice, teaching it how to put the needs of others ahead of one’s own. Humility fosters charity. It seems obvious that Walsch has either never encountered genuine Christian love, or refuses to recognize it when he does.
From there, Walsch’s God reiterates that the soul’s desire is not to know, but to feel, and he encourages Walsch to experience all that he can. “The purpose of the human soul is to experience all of it — so that it can be all of it.” (p. 83) Unity in pure love is the ultimate goal. He draws an analogy between love’s relationship to emotion and the properties of white light.
“Many think that white is the absence of color[, but] it is the inclusion of all color[, ] every other color that exists, combined. So, too, is love not the absence of an emotion (hatred, anger, lust, jealousy, covetousness), but the summation of all feeling. […] Thus, for the soul to experience perfect love, it must experience every human feeling. […] How can I forgive in another that which I have never experienced in Myself?” (p. 83)
With this he wipes away the concept of sin, attacking especially the Commandments and the Seven Cardinal Sins. In order to truly live, one must willfully commit those very grave acts of disobedience that the Church holds as deadly to a loving relationship with God. This teaching of Walsch’s God contradicts the Good News of Christ at its core.
Of course, Walsch’s God denies the existence of Satan (p. 85). To acknowledge it would be an admission that an objective reality exists. Instead, he teaches to accept all things, choosing the best from amongst them. [He does not use this passage, but this is eerily similar to St. Paul’s advice in 1 Th 5:21, to test all things and hold fast to what is good.]
Isn’t it interesting that you find nothing blasphemous about seeking to be like the devil, but seeking to be like God offends you. […] You’ve even created religions that tell you that you are born in sin […] in order to convince yourselves of your own evil. (p. 85)
From a Catholic perspective, this is nonsense, for what other Christian group concerns itself more with the imitation of Christ in one’s daily life (c.f. Thomas à Kempis). Actually, this is more a reproach of Protestant and Christian Fundamentalist teachings (i.e. Total Depravity doctrine, sin nature).
To help the reader choose to be God, Walsch’s God calls Walsch (and thus everyone vicariously) goodness, mercy, compassion, understanding, peace, joy, light, forgiveness, patience, strength, courage, a helper, a comforter, a teacher, the deepest wisdom, the highest truth, the greatest peace, and the greatest love. (pp. 86-87) This kind of language is traditionally used to describe God (in his three persons) in the Bible and other Christian literature.
Reincarnation. I noted in my summary of Chapter 1 that Walsch doesn’t embrace reincarnation explicitly, but there is another vague reference to it on page 84 when Walsch’s God states that it takes “many lifetimes” for the soul to fulfill its purpose.